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Central Artery

a section of freeway through downtown Boston, Massachusetts

What eventually became the Central Artery began with a 1909 proposal for building a continuous rail tunnel linking North Station and South Station, topped by a 100-foot-wide roadway. City and state officials were unable to reach a concensus on whether such a project should be undertaken, however, and the plan was shelved.

The first plans for an elevated highway through downtown Boston were developed by the City of Boston in 1930, but a lack of funding and two world wars delayed serious consideration of the project until 1948. Demolition of buildings along the proposed right of way began in 1950, and actual construction began in 1953.

The above-ground Artery was built in two sections. First was the part north of High Street and Broad Street, to the Tobin Bridge, which opened to traffic in 1954. Residents already hated the new highway and the way it towered over and separated neighborhoods, however, so the southern end of the Central Artery through the South Station area was placed undergound. That section opened to traffic in 1959.

The elevated portion of the Central Artery as it looked in 1957.
Boston Central Artery in 1957


The Roads of Metro Boston

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The Robinson Library >> Roads and Highways

This page was last updated on December 18, 2018.